|David M. McKee|
17th Apr 2012
| ||Hargus Robbins was born in Spring City, Tennessee on January 18, 1938. his first record was‘Save It’ on the Argo label (London HLM8966 in the UK). He had to wait until 1961 for a second release, an instrumental, ‘Go Ahead’, on Wildcat records. A third single, ‘Fidgety’ appeared on Mr. Peacock in the same year.|
Perhaps the greatest session pianist / keyboardist ever to grace a Nashville recording studio, Hargus "Pig" Robbins maintained an amazingly prolific career from the late ’50s on into the new millennium. An accident with his father’s knife resulted in the loss of an eye, and he went completely blind before the age of four. He started taking classical piano lessons at age seven, and learned to play country music by ear, particularly that of his idol, Tex Ritter.
Robbins played the Nashville club scene after graduating and got his first session gig helping a friend record his demo. He subsequently joined the musicians’ union and got his first big-time exposure on George Jones’ 1959 hit ‘White Lightning’. Over the next few decades, Robbins played behind a who’s who of country music, recording with Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Connie Smith, Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gayle, Ernest Tubb, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare, the Statler Brothers, Gary Stewart, and Kenny Rogers.
His appearance on Bob Dylan’s 1966 classic ‘Blonde on Blonde’ album created demand for his work among folk (Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary) and pop / rock artists (John Denver, Doug Sahm, the Everly Brothers, Ray Charles, Tom Jones).
Robbins recorded his first solo album, ‘A Bit of Country Piano’, in 1963 and issued three more solo records on the Chart label during the late ’60s. He later returned to solo recording for Elektra, issuing a trio of albums – ‘Country Instrumentalist of the Year’, ‘A Pig in a Poke’, and ‘Unbreakable Hearts’.
In the ’80s and ’90s, Robbins was able to maintain his standing as Nashville’s top session keyboardist with a new generation of country stars, playing with Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Mark Chesnutt, Vince Gill, and Reba McEntire, among others.